Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sasha 1996-2006

Okay folks, like a rock band that just got done playing 3 slammers in a row, now it's time to take it down a notch. Because I am going to hijack this Blog to say goodbye to a beloved family pet: GPA and my cat, Sasha, who joined the great carpeted jungle-gym in the sky today. So, snuggle up with a pet of your own, or a glass of whiskey, and join my on this meloncholy trip down pet lane.

GPA and I adopted Sasha in September of 1998. We had just moved to Minneapolis, I had just entered law school, and GPA had just passed her NASD series 7 and series 63. We had promised each other that, after she passed her tests, we would get a cat as a reward (even though the apartment building we were living in didn't allow cats). And so, on a crisp Friday night, we ventured to the local Humane Society. After test-petting several cats, we picked up a small, fluffy cat named Sadie. She started audibly purring the minute we picked her up, and loved being petted. We were sold. We took her home, liberated her from her old-lady-esque name, and began a long process of getting to know her. The first three days, Sasha hid under the bed and wouldn't come out. Finally, I dragged her out (by her tail) and we made her interact with us. After that day, we were officially a family.

Almost anyone who has ever visted us has met Sasha, since she would jump up in the lap of visitors and make them pet her, allergies notwithstanding. Sasha had no use for fake mice (even those stuffed with catnip) or cat toys of almost any type, but did have 2 weaknesses: wadded-up receipts and bows (like from presents). The double-bungalo we moved to after living in the tiny apartment where Sasha first joined us had a carpeted set of stairs. Sasha would flop on one of those stairs, I would throw a wadded-up receipt to her, and she would bat it back down to me. Repeat ad infinitum.

For her entire life with us, Sasha would throw up her food about once every four days. We took her to a vet after about a year of this and the vet diagnosed her with a mild pancrease condition. Every month or so, we gave her a pill, and otherwised got accustomed to cleaning up cat barf (which was an officially-designated GPA job). Last Sunday, we noticed that Sasha hadn't eaten for several days, so we took her to a local vet. The final diagnosis was that essentially every organ in her body was shutting down. GPA and I paid a final visit to her this morning, held her, and cried like 6-year-old girls who had been told that Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny had gotten into a head-on, no-survivors car accident with Barbie, Cinderella and Big Bird. I figure we must have appeared geniunely sad because we made the vet cry, and they have to deal with dying pets every day.

I have wondered, in the last several days, whether it would have been easier to take had we just woken up one morning and found her dead. I think this may be one of those pull the bandaid slowly vs. quickly kind of arguments. In general, I'm glad I had a chance to say goodbye to her, as hard as it was.

There are any number of Hallmark-ready lessons one can learn when a pet dies. The only one interesting enough to bear repeating, in my opinion, is this: in life, we have a choice to either open ourselves up to love and life and new experiences, or to close ourselves off and develop a hard shell (Red Foreman-style) of "don't give a shit." If you pick the former route, you open yourself up to all kinds of pain and sadness because that goes hand-in-hand with happiness and joy and love. If you pick the latter route, you will seldom be horribly depressed, but you will seldom be all that happy, either. As usual, Shakespeare summed all of that up very concisely: it IS better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

This is, ultimately, every pet lover's dilema, because the simple fact is, unless you have a toucan or a Galapagos turtle as a pet, we live much longer than our pets do. So, whether you want to think about it or not, every pet you love is a pet you will eventually have to say goodbye to. Thanks, Captain Bring-Down!

At the end of the day, what I will remember about Sasha is the unique slice of my life that I shared with her. She joined our family as I was entering law school, GPA was starting her career, and we were both living in a tiny, crappy one-bedroom apartment. In the 8 years she spent with us, we moved 3 times, including one major move; I changed jobs 4 times; GPA changed employers twice and got promoted 7 times. Our household income increased by 1000%. We owned 4 different cars. I earned my JD and GPA earned her MBA. I went from essentially college student (age 22) to adult-whether-I-want-to-be-or-not (30). Throughout all of it, the only two constants in my life were GPA and Sasha.

So, this blog entry is my tribute to the tiny grey cat who changed me from a dog person to a cat person. I hope your life with us was as great as our life with you. If there is a heaven, we'll see you there, because it wouldn't be heaven without you.


Lord Bling said...

Alright, you got me to well up a little bit. Now I need to listen to some metal to cheer me up.

I have two cats ... Audrey (who's only a sweetheart when it's time for bed, or when she's hungry, but I love her all the same) and Tommy The Cat (yeah, like Primus). If anything happens to either of them, I'm gonna lose it. You did the right thing, both by opening up to let the love in, and by taking Sasha in, and not letting her suffer anymore.

Funny how we do that for our pets, because it's the 'humane' thing to do, but when we try to do it for a human, even if they want it, it's illegal.

CowboyLaw said...

One thing I didn't cover, because it wasn't really topical, was the vet bill. Which was just about exactly $1000. Which was a discount off of the $1400 that the bill reflected we should have been charged. The vet did the discount before ever giving us the bill, so it's not like this is due to my skilled negotiating. And it was not a shock, because we asked for and received cost updates throughout the process. And the revealing thing to me was, if you had asked me going in if I would pay $1000 to keep Sasha alive, I would have said no. If, on Saturday, the vet would have told me that she could keep Sasha alive for another 8 years, but only if I signed over my car, I would have done it. I was surprised to find out just how attached I really was.

miles said...

Its going to happen. I am going to have a hard time when our dog kicks the bucket, and my wife is going to go looney tunes. I am not a dog person; I'm totally a cat lover, but the dog came with the wife so I had to deal, and it was certainly a trial.
Now, I think she is the greatest dog in the world. Doesn't get into trouble very often, never has an accident, even tried to wake us up in the middle of the night because she knew she was going to get sick and wanted us to let her out. Unbelievable. My wife tells me there is limit to the amount of money she would spend on vet bills in order to keep our dog from peril.

Law, I'll pour a little out for your loss.

Bling, Just to let you know I named my daughter after your cat. Thank you.

Lord Bling said...

Or we are both fans of Audrey Hepburn? Or Audrey Tatou? Those are the only two Audreys I know.